Al- Tabari

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Tabari, Al-


(Abu Jafar Muhammad ibn Jarir at-Tabari). Born 838 or 839 in Amol, in the region of Tabaristan, in what is now Iran; died 923 in Tabaristan. Arabic historian and theologian; author of Annals of Apostles and Kings (also called Annals of Prophets and Kings).

Because of the abundance and accuracy of its factual material, al-Tabari’s Annals is one of the most important sources on the ancient and medieval history of the Near East, especially the history of the Arabic caliphates of the Umayyads and Abbasids until A.D. 915. Al-Tabari made use of both oral traditions and works by early Arabic authors that have not survived. His Annals was the main source for most subsequent works on general Arabic history. Al-Tabari also wrote a multivolume commentary on the Koran containing abundant material about the Koran and critical analyses of this material. In addition to history and theology, al-Tabari studied Arabic poetry, lexicography, grammar, mathematics, and medicine.

In 963 the Samanid vizier al-Balami translated and adapted al-Tabari’s Annals into modern Persian; this version was later translated into Turkish, Urdu, French, and other languages. Al-Tabari became widely known in Europe after the German Orientalist J. G. L. Kosegarten published part of the Annals. Excerpts from the Annals have been translated into Russian by N. A. Mednikov, A. E. Shmidt, and L. I. Nadiradze.


Annales quos scripsit Abu Djafar ... at-Tabari cum aliis, series 1–3. Edited by M. J. de Goeje. Leiden, 1879–98.
Tarikh ar-rusud va-l’-muluk, vols. 1–3. Cairo, 1960–62. (Review by P. A. Griaznevich in Narody Azii i Afriki, 1964, no. 3.)
[Otryvki i vyderzhki.] In Khrestomatiia po istorii khalifata. Compiled and translated by L. I. Nadiradze. Moscow, 1968.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.